Straight Line Quilting | Not so straightforward…in a good way!

Just sewing straight lines on a quilt? Sounds kinda boring. Well it’s not! Simple, straight lines all over a quilt can be really effective but there are so many more options for “just” straight lines.

But before you decide how to use straight line quilting, let’s talk about what you are going to need. I have two favourite tools I always use when I am straight line quilting:

  1. Walking foot (straight line quilting is often also called walking foot quilting!)
    Some sewing machine come with one, others you may have to buy one separately but I would highly recommend the investment. Essentially the foot has feed dogs too so when it works with your sewing machine’s built-in feed dogs (the little “teeth” set into your sewing machine plate). There are quite a few benefits to quilting with a walking foot including;
    – it really helps to manoeuvre the weight of a quilt under the foot keeping the stitch length even
    – it helps to keep the fabric and wadding layers together while you quilt so none of the layers bunch up or pucker
    – many walking foots come with extra guides that can help keep your lines of quilting evenly spaced
  2. Hera Marker (by Clover)
    This plastic tool has a large rounded edge that can be used to create a very definite crease on woven fabrics like quilting cotton. When used with a quilting ruler you can “draw” guides all over your quilt to then follow with your quilting stitch but without the worry of a fabric pen not washing out properly. I especially like to use my Hera Marker to create guide lines if I am straight line quilting round corners so I know where my two lines of quilting will meet and turn.

Here are a few examples of straight line quilting used in a few different styles:

So we’ve talked about the what, now onto the how. There are more options with straight line quilting than a lot of people might think, and really, like other quilting styles, the only limit is your imagination. I’ll cover a selection of my favourites here:

  • All-over parallel lines (horizontal or vertical)
    As the name suggests, these are straight lines of quilting that go across the full length or width of the quilt. How far apart they are spaced is up to you and what works well with the quilt design. I really like a 1″ gap but this doesn’t always work with some block sizes. If the lines of quilting are very close together, this is called matchstick quilting.
    [this has been used in the white/black quilt above]
  • All-over diagonal parallel lines
    The same as above but the lines of quilting go diagonally across the quilt. Again, the best spacing will depending on the design of the quilt.
  • Either of the above combined in two directions
    This will create a denser look and feel to your quilt compared to just running the lines of quilting in one direction. And, of course will take longer and use more thread!
  • Bordering the main seams
    As well as lots of seams within the block construction of a quilt top, there are often (but not always!) more main/prominent seams; usually where the blocks have been put together. Quilting 1/4″ either side of these seams on both the horizontal and vertical will create a really nice grid effect.
    [this has been used in the black/greys/gold quilt above]
  • “Follow the path”
    Depending on the overall design of the quilt, there might be some “paths” created by either the background or the main fabrics. You could follow these “paths” across or around your quilt and use parallel lines of quilting that turn with each corner or angle. If the “path” is quite thick you could added several lines of quilting.
    [this has been used in the yellow/white quilt above]
  • Highlighting block details (echoing)
    This is similar to “follow the path” but is used to highlight and echo details in a quilt design.
    [this has been used in the turquoise/blue quilt above]

There are then countless styles, similar to free motion quilting, that are a design feature in themselves but are made up entirely from straight lines. If you want to learn more about “outside the box” styles then I’d highly recommend the book “Walk” by Jacquie Gering.

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6 thoughts on “Straight Line Quilting | Not so straightforward…in a good way!

  1. I was really looking forward to reading these articles on straight line quilting. However I’ve been stymied because of the extremely light/faint colored ink you use. My poor 75 year old eyes simply can’t easily read this washed out print. I keep seeing this very faint and difficult to read print on more and more blog posts by younger women. It causes much too much eye strain for me even with the best glasses!


    1. Hi Andrea,
      I’m sorry you’re having trouble reading the font. It’s set as a very dark grey so I’m not sure why that would be showing as extremely light or faint for you. Would darkening the settings in your screen help?


      1. HI Amy,

        Thanks for your response to may comment. I first looked at your post on my iPhone 12 with my settings optimized for best reading. Today I looked at the same article on my new iMac 27′ which is also have personally optimized to a much larger and darker font. I’m still not easily able to read your dark grey font so I guess I’ll have to just have to pass your post on by. I’ve seen this same issue from others blogs I’ve followed in the past. Dark Grey fonts just don’t work for me and I’m sure for others with older eyes as well. My children in their 40s can see things in much smaller fonts and lighter prints than I can.

        Thanks for trying to help!

        Andrea Franklin


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